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If you run paid search advertising on Google or Microsoft, you may have been recently notified in your account, by email, or elsewhere about expanded text ads going away.

While an ad format’s retirement sounds scary, this isn’t something that should impact the performance of small business ad accounts.

We’ll explain everything you need to know to embrace this upcoming change, including:

  • Full details on the announcements from Google and Microsoft of what’s changing.
  • What expanded text ads are.
  • What responsive search ads are.
  • 6 solutions and workarounds to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Get all the details to get ready for the sunset of expanded text ads and know what to do to ensure your small business isn’t impacted.

expanded text ads - google announcement

Related: Get the latest Google Ads updates here.

What’s happening with expanded text ads

On August 31, 2021, Google announced that as of June 30, 2022, responsive search ads (RSAs) “will be the only Search ad type that can be created or edited in standard Search campaigns.”

In an effort to make this transition smooth for advertisers across platforms, Microsoft Ads also announced that it would mirror Google’s update. That means that Microsoft text ads will also be sunset and the platform will default to Microsoft responsive search ads.

What this means

Your existing expanded text ads (ETAs) will continue to run and you’ll be able to report on their performance. However, you’ll only be able to pause, resume, or remove them—not edit or create new ones.

What’s the difference between ETAs and RSAs?

The news above may have your head spinning if you’re unsure of what exactly these two ad types are. Completely understandable, and don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with a breakdown.

Expanded Text Ads

Expanded text ads are an older paid search ad type that rolled out back in 2016. They allowed your ad copy to be organized into three headlines and two descriptions that were anchored in place.

expanded text ads - building text ads in the platform example

Responsive search ads

Responsive search ads (RSAs) are a bit newer since they came out just a few years ago in 2018. They look the exact same as ETAs on the search engine results page (SERP). However, they are built differently. RSAs give the option to create more ad copy variations with up to 15 headlines and four descriptions.

expanded text ads - responsive search ads buildout

Those different lines of copy are then automatically swapped in and out with one another to create unique ad variations in real-time during a search.

responsive search ads - diagram of how they work

Image source

ETAs vs RSAs

Here’s an example of what an ETA or RSA could look like live on the SERP. Note that you can’t tell whether the ad shown is an ETA or RSA because they are meant to look the same to viewers.

search ad example - how a text ad looks on the serp

Although ETAs allow for more control, they often get stale quickly. The new RSA-only search space will allow for more variety in your ad copy—which in turn helps you match up to search queries more accurately.

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6 tips to make the best of this change

Since ETAs can take less time to create, they’ve often been a “bread and butter” ad type for small businesses. However, RSAs are known to outperform ETAs—which is Google’s (and Microsoft’s) reasoning behind the change.

Luckily, we have plenty of time to prepare before June 2022. Here are a few tips on how small businesses can deal with this update:

1. Understand what you’re running now

You can check which ad type you’re currently using by simply clicking into the ads subsection of your Google or Microsoft Ads account. Once there, you’ll notice a column that says ad type to help you differentiate which is which.

If you’re still unsure or don’t have access to your own account, reach out to your marketing partner. Ask them to provide a rundown of how many of your ads are currently ETAs or RSAs.

expanded text ads - example of ad types

2. Build out new RSAs

Regardless of whether you’re already running RSAs or not, it’s a good idea to start using them more frequently.

Prepare yourself by having plenty of RSAs to choose from if need be. Not only will this fall in line with Google’s recommended best practice of only using RSAs going forward, but it will get you into the habit of building out successful RSAs for years to come.

Plus, you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with RSA buildout capabilities. For example, you can “pin” select headlines and descriptions to anchor them into place—allowing for a bit more control over your copy.

3. A/B test your ETA ad copy while you still can

The PPC community has given kudos to Google for giving us such headway before the change takes effect. Until June 2022, your ETAs will behave as normal—including your editing capabilities. Enjoy your ability to A/B test your ETA ad copy while you still can. That way, you can perfect your ETAs now and let them run as is once you can’t change them anymore.


Image source

4. Try other ad types

ETAs and RSAs aren’t the only way to go when it comes to paid search ad types on Google or Microsoft. We also have call ads, which are popular among small businesses due to their purpose of driving calls. You can also try dynamic ads or smart campaigns for Google Search to let the machine learning do the heavy lifting when it comes time to create ads.

Display ads or Microsoft’s multimeadia ads are other great alternatives from the platforms where you can ditch the text altogether and have fun with creative images that show across the web. Or if your business sells products, Google Shopping can work wonders for increasing sales. 


Find more examples of call ads here.

5. Try other ad platforms

These are Google Ads and Microsoft Ads announcements, therefore, it’s unique to just that one platform. There are plenty of other advertising options, like Facebook’s Meta for Business. Additionally, no small business PPC strategy is complete without a well-rounded multi-channel approach.

Take this update as an opportunity to look at your whole small business marketing approach and see where there are gaps. There’s plenty of fish in the advertising sea, so feel free to explore social ads, print ads, and more to help boost your paid search efforts.

expanded text ads going away - exampls of other marketing channels

Check out other marketing platform options to compliment your Google Search ads here.

6. Work with a trusted marketing partner

If all this change still seems overwhelming, a marketing partner to help guide you through platform updates may put your mind at ease. They can help if you don’t have time to build out new ads or adjust your current ones. That way, you can dedicate your time to growing your business—not keeping up with Google trends.

Related: Get more Google Ads tips and updates here!


Help your business through the ETA update

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years from Google Ads and Microsoft Ads, it’s that these changes won’t stop coming. As technology evolves, so do updates to the platform.

Follow our tips on how to maintain Google Ads success through all the updates. Or, reach out to one of our experts for more information on running search advertising.

Take this update in stride and use it as an opportunity to make the best of your current advertising efforts.

PS: Did you know that LOCALiQ is a Google Premier Partner? Find out how this helps our customers!

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